Get Better ROI From Virtual Events

by | Jun 11, 2022 | Content Marketing

Welp, if there’s one thing I pondered during my Omicron-riddled holidays, it’s whether virtual industry events will continue to be the norm in 2022.

I also pondered how many bottles of hairspray Gwen Shamblin used in a month.

But let’s focus on my more useful pondering: Given that some organizations are returning to in-person events and some are keeping their events virtual, what are some ways that companies can continue to generate leads from virtual events?

While there is some overlap between in-person event marketing and virtual event marketing, virtual event lead generation requires a few strategic tweaks.

Today’s blog from Hey Sarah has some actionable guidance for you.

Optimize Your Booth

Most virtual events have a virtual “showroom” where vendors can promote themselves via their virtual “booth.”

As with in-person events, your booth is the most important element of your marketing strategy at a virtual event. But while fresh cookies and paint canvases can draw a crowd to your physical booth, they won’t work for lead generation in the virtual world.

So how do you use your booth as part of your virtual event lead generation strategy? Make sure you do the following:

Use all mediums available to you. In many virtual vendor halls or showrooms, vendors are allowed to upload audio, video and print material. Upload high-quality pieces for each of these categories. Having several types of content will make your booth exciting for event attendees.

Remember, attendees have been staring at their computers all day. There are many vendors in the showroom. The last thing attendees want to do is read a lifeless one-sheet with a list of your offerings. They want to feel a genuine, non-salesy connection with your company–and it takes high-quality content to grab and keep their attention.

If you don’t have print, audio and/or video content, make a plan to create it. This may seem like a daunting task. However, there are many apps and programs that make audio/video/editing/design simple and affordable. Canva, Zoom and iMovie are great options.

Booth Optimization Ideas

A few ideas to turn your online booth into a lead generation machine:

Record one of your more energetic and passionate employees talking for a few minutes about the 2-3 most important industry trends.

Film a video of a day-in-the-life of your company.

Create a PDF how-to guide that helps your audience solve one of their biggest pain points.

Film a 2-minute tutorial of how to use your products and services.

Design a document of testimonials from satisfied customers.

Consider filming a short video testimonial with a particularly outgoing and satisfied customer.

Energize your company description. There will be a space in your virtual booth to write a short description of your company. Do not use the company description box to merely describe your company. For the purposes of virtual event lead generation, use that space to answer these questions:

  • How does your company make your customers’ lives better.
  • What do you help your customers achieve?
  • How do you make their lives easier?
  • What pain point do you resolve for them?

Answering these questions in your company description area will make it more likely that attendees will want to learn more about you.

Did you know Hey Sarah offers strategic content, content plans and consulting to help you achieve success at your next virtual event?

Virtual Event Challenges That Social Media Can Solve

Much of your social media strategy for in-person events can be adapted for virtual event lead generation. However, the following challenges at virtual events require a slightly different approach to social media:

It’s easy for attendees to feel disconnected from the event. Right now, virtual events simply cannot provide the same immersive experience that in-person events offer. Even if attendees are deeply present with sessions and conversations, when there’s a break, attendees often shift to outside responsibilities–emails, childcare, To-Do list items. This removes them from the overall event experience.

Technology can fail. We’ve all experienced this. We’re watching a virtual event session or panel, or participating in a breakout room and our browser crashes, Zoom kicks us off, there’s a glitch in the event organizers’ tech. It’s frustrating, takes us out of the moment and makes us want to walk away from our computer.

How To Use Social Media For Virtual Event Lead Generation

To combat these challenges, a strong social media presence at virtual events is crucial. Here are a few best practices that will support your virtual event lead generation.

Live tweet insights from sessions and conversations. Assign someone in your company to attend sessions and continuously live tweet key takeaways, advice, ideas, etc. Try to tweet every 3-5 minutes, being sure to use the event hashtag and tag speakers, organizers, resources mentioned, etc. Try creating a poll and ask your audience a fun, industry-related question to increase engagement even more.

This will flood the event with your company’s name. It will also help attendees stay engaged, even when they need to step away from the event to address emails, work tasks or personal situations. They can follow along on their phone. Plus, if any technology on the event’s end fails, you can still update your company’s social media accounts with updates, which attendees can follow.

Support lead generation. Remember, the ultimate purpose of your social media presence at virtual events is to support lead generation. You want to lead attendees to your booth. Mention your booth number and link frequently in your posts. Ensure your account bios include your booth number, link and event hashtag.

Post pictures. Just because your company isn’t attending an in-person event in Vegas or Nashville doesn’t mean you can’t post high-quality, engaging photos. In fact, you should post images because it shows the human side of virtual events and helps attendees feel more connected.

Social Media Image Ideas

If you’re stumped as to what type of photos you should post, here are a few ideas:

  • Your virtual event setup. Take a picture of your laptop, phone, notepad and coffee. Show attendees your workspace so that they can relate to you and be excited with you. They’re probably working from their office, kitchen table or couch too.
  • Your lunch. Everyone enjoys a good food picture. This is a fun way to mimic that you’re eating at the event. Just as you might post a photo of a delicious meal you have at an in-person event, you create the same effect when you post a picture of your lunch.
  • What you’re doing on a break. Going for a walk? Answering emails? Waiting in the carpool line? Snap a picture to demonstrate to attendees that you’re still engaged and that you’re a human with outside responsibilities, just like them.
  • A selfie or group shot. If you feel comfortable, take a picture of yourself and/or your coworkers at your event setup.
  • The person running your online booth. It’s always helpful to put a real-time face to a name of the person attendees will be messaging with when they visit your booth. This is an always-appreciated nod to transparency and puts attendees at ease.
  • A furry friend. Does your office have a dog? Do you have a pet who’s near your work space? Snap a pic. Everyone loves a cute/interesting animal photo.

Following Up To Support Virtual Event Lead Generation

When you follow the above social media strategy for your virtual events, you’ll notice a spike in followers across your platforms. These are great potential leads for your company. Here’s how to follow up with them to support your virtual event lead generation:

  • Follow them back on the platform where they followed you.
  • Message them directly on that platform. Do not send sales-y messages like “check out our booth” or “I’d love to tell you about our company.” Rather, send them something valuable, such as link to your lead magnet, podcast or a valuable blog post your company wrote.
  • If you don’t have a lead magnet or valuable content to share, make a plan to create it. In the meantime, send your new followers a message of gratitude. A simple, “Hi (Name), thanks for the follow. Hope you’re enjoying the conference!” is perfect. After the event ends, a slightly more direct message is appropriate. Something like, “Hi (Name), that’s a wrap on the (Name of Event). I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you ever need help with (mention their pain point), we’re here for you. Here’s our website: (link to website).” You can customize this to sound as natural and non-pushy as possible.

To wrap up, you can expect that 2022 will continue to see many virtual events. That’s why it’s crucial to perfect your virtual event lead generation strategy by making specific tweaks to your booth and social media presence.

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